BA Economics, Middlebury College (USA)
Intern, Equinor Energy Ventures
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
I worked at J.P. Morgan as an investment analyst for about two and a half years in both New York and London. I started as a Summer Analyst in Latin American Private Banking and then moved to the Endowments and Foundations group as a full-time analyst. I supported endowments, foundations, charities and family offices to manage long-term multi-asset class portfolios, helping clients achieving wealth management goals.
I also interned at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, supporting the new Delegation of Palao, one of the small island nations in the Pacific. I carried out research on climate change policy and its effects on conservation efforts, the local economy and cultural values of the people of Palao.
Why did you decide to study an MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance at Imperial College Business School?
I have a background in economics and environmental science from my Bachelor’s degree in the USA. After my experience in banking and financial services, I wanted to become an expert in the energy sector as it is one of the main contributors to climate change. Imperial College had the resources both from The Business School and also from the Grantham Institute. Combining business education and climate change research as part of the MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance is a unique offer for any student interested in these fields.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
I enjoyed the group project orientation of the programme because the Master’s brings together people from multiple sectors, academic backgrounds and nationalities. Learning in group projects about the impacts of climate change and adaptation efforts in countries like Kenya, Costa Rica, India or the UK provided me insights that complemented discussions from lectures. It was an opportunity that students in my cohort had to get to know each other in a professional way, but also to build friendship within the cohort. People I worked with in those groups will become leaders and experts in sustainability and climate change related industries – you start building your network there.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
My favourite module was Climate Finance because there we were able to combine knowledge and skills from multiple modules such as mitigation, impacts and adaptions, corporate finance and clean technology investments. It was 100% group project and we had to come up with the strategy and project pipeline of a fund that invest in mitigation projects in emerging markets. As a group, we were discussing the impact potential and feasibility of real-life projects in South East Asia. We were also assessing whether those projects fitted our fund strategy and made business sense.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The programme is highly multi-disciplinary. I came to it with the idea of specialising in the energy sector. However, the more I learned, the more career paths in the climate change movement and sustainability industry I started to explore. It has been challenging to choose and focus in one particular issue given so much is interconnected. Being willing to learn more about new careers paths and business sectors is key in order to succeed in the Master’s and to make the most of the business school experience.
How do you describe your cohort at imperial?
Very engaged group of students with a strong interest in climate change, sustainability and climate justice. Overall, a very close community of friends and future colleagues that I am grateful for getting to know.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Jouse Tanaka was my favourite lecturer. He kept all his lectures very interesting and interactive with anecdotes and insight on the multiple climate-related projects he worked around the world. He explained to us climate finance starting from the big picture to the more detailed transactions and challenges that the private and public sector face to mobilise capital.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
Climate change management is a highly interconnected issue that demands multiple perspectives to find a solution. The MSc succeeded at bringing together people from different academic backgrounds and professional experiences that enriched all group projects. You may have had a civil engineer and an economist discussing climate change adaptation plans in Mexico City, or a former banker and a marine biologist evaluating sustainability strategies of fast-moving consumer good companies. I have gained skills and complemented my education beyond the classroom through group projects and insightful discussion with my diverse class.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?
I was a board member of Imperial College Business School Energy Club. It was an excellent opportunity to connect with professionals in the energy industry ranging from traditional oil & gas companies to renewable energy and clean technology start-ups. Working for the energy club members and together with other board members, was a way to bring closer to campus the challenges and solutions that I discussed in class. We hosted around six events on campus opened to all students with a great participation rate and feedback from students.
Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
As part of the MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance, we have guest lectures coming to talk to us every Thursday afternoon. They come from a diverse pool of backgrounds and talked to us about current projects and issues they deal with as part of their jobs. The guest lecturer that I enjoyed the most was the presentation by Bjorn Ottro Sverdrup (VP of Sustainability at Equinor) who presented the sustainability strategy and climate change plan by Equinor (former Statoil). This was a clear example of how international oil companies are thinking about the impact of the energy sector in climate change and working on tangible solutions that are financially sustainable. It was also in this lecture that I heard about the internship programme at Equinor, where I currently work for the summer.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?
I was part of Imperial College Dance Company and represented Imperial at dance competitions in the United Kingdom in the categories of advanced jazz and advanced contemporary dance, I was the events and communications officer for Imperial College Business School Energy Club, I was a co-founder and the marketing officer for Imperial College Business School Latin American club,and I was also a Student Ambassador.
How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community, including Imperial’s Grantham Institute?
Imperial College is an innovation hub and leading research institution. I think that having access to multiple clubs and academic circles at Imperial enriches your business school experience because you learn from real-life business cases and current challenges. There is a great emphasis on solutions that entrepreneurs, businesses and researchers are working on. Imperial brings these people to campus and invites you to have one-on-one conversations with them.
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I would like to work in the renewable energy and clean technology sector either from a financial role or business development. I think Imperial has given me the skills necessary to understand and work in the transition occurring in the energy sector. We have analysed in class how the transition to a low carbon economy is already impacting business models, people’s behaviour and policy. I have been able to talk to industry leaders about their most concerning challenges and opportunities arising from disruptive technologies or changes in policy.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
As part of the energy club, we were able to invite energy professionals into business school to network with us, which gave us a more comprehensive view of the energy sector and career opportunities. Many clean tech starts up are headquartered in London, which allowed us to invite them to share their experience with students interested in renewable energy.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
While completing the Master’s, I lived in Islington in North London. It was close to central London and just one tube line to the Business School.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?
I am part of a volleyball league in London, which allowed me to meet friends outside of the Business School and to participate in international tournaments in Europe. I was able to travel to Poland and Portugal to compete during weekends.
I am also part of a small dance company. We do jazz and contemporary dance performances in shows and festivals around London and it is a great way to keep in touch with the performing arts scene in such an eclectic city.
If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
Finding housing can be a bit difficult, so I would suggest starting to look at housing options at least a month before moving to London. Explore GradPad which a few people in my programme used instead of going with external agents.
Learning a new skill/sport or re-training in one can be a great way to meet new people. There are hundreds of associations and groups in London outside of the Business School based on people’s interests. This is a great way to expand your network and have fun! I hadn’t played volleyball for six years since high school and I started re-training in London.
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
I attended the on-campus information session for the MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance programme. It gave me a very nice overview of the type of modules and the orientation of the programme. I was also able to hear the experience and advice from current students. I found that many people in the room had similar questions to mine. I would highly encourage people to attend these events to have a better perspective on the curriculum.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
Whether you come from the corporate world or academia, MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance is a highly interdisciplinary Master’s programme. It is valuable to show how your experience at university or work has motivated you to get involved in the climate change movement. You should also highlight what particular aspect of business and climate change is of your particular interest. Climate change and sustainability are very complex issues that involve multiple industries, so having an idea of what you might want to focus on can help you navigate this programme. I choose the energy sector and renewable energy, while other people’s passion were smart cities, transportation, sustainability innovation, etc. Finally, do not be afraid of reaching out to alumni. I believe MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance has a very strong network of alumni truly committed to climate change and anyone, especially ambassadors would be happy to tell you more about the programme, their experience in London and at Imperial College.